“Do something today your future self will thank you for.”
– Anonymous

AutumnProtocol Question

QUESTION:  Hi Kate, Everything is moving along…

So, I have 2 agents now and I just got the same audition request from both of them, albeit a few days apart. I already sent in an audition for the job with one agent. Should I send in another with the other agent? The same one with the other agent or just explain to the second agent that I’ve already auditioned for the job with someone else? Not respond?

On a side note, one of the agents sent me an audition that goes against my principles…re: XXXXX. I thought about just doing it for practice, but I remember you saying to never do that if I don’t intend to follow through with the job, should I get it. Should I tell the agent or just not do the audition and move on? Thoughts…

ANSWER:  First off, you DO respond to the 2nd agent with: “Thank you so much for thinking of me, however I’ve already auditioned for this project.”

Nothing more, nothing less.  Should that agent follow up with, “Who was the other agent and when did they send you the audition?  Just curious! etcDo NOT respond to that type of communication.  Frankly, it’s a novice, unprofessional thing to ask, because, honestly, it’s none of their business.  All they really need (and want) to know is are you in or are you out on this audition?  Are you available or not? And that’s right—DO NOT AUDITION for anything unless you intend to accept the job if booked. 

You MUST respond just the same… an appropriate response would be: “Thanks for thinking of me, but I have a conflict and have to take a pass on this one!

And you can (and should) quote me on that!  Always take the high road.

All of this is in the book (“The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voice-over & the Business of Being a Working Talent”) in the Auditions chapter, for future reference.  Might be a good time to revisit!

In the meantime, well done, you’ve passed your first professional hurdle! 

By all means continue… ›


A good headshot and résumé is the common calling card of a professional talent pursuing on-camera or stage work. In fact, you can’t land commercial representation from a talent agent without first having a really good headshot and a decent résumé. The headshot, like your voice-over demo, is your first opportunity to let the agent know whether you are up to speed as a talent. It’s a dead giveaway as to whether you know what you’re doing in this business. It defines you—it types you.

One casting director put it this way, “Your headshots are a marketing tool. They must sell your type.”

A talent agent will either be interested in you from what your headshot communicates and will become engaged enough to want to call you in or not. Pure and simple.

A bad headshot, like a bad demo, will turn a talent agent off in a heartbeat. It’s a career killer. There’s absolutely no excuse for a bad headshot, because it exhibits a complete lack of professionalism if it’s not up to the industry’s current standards.

So, please don’t have a cheap attack when it comes to your headshots. This is one of those times where you should really spend the money. The investment will pay you back in aces if you do.  If you aren’t in the ballpark, you can’t play ball.

You want to be wise in your choices of photographer, shots, reproduction, and distribution. It’s the difference between working and NOT working.

Do I Need a Headshot to Land Voice-over?

In a word, no. You don’t need a headshot to land voice-over work; you need a headshot to land on-camera work, and to land an agent who handles more than just voice-over. (And, apparently, to sell real estate.)

Not everyone pursuing voice-over is also interested in pursuing on-camera work, but since such a substantial number are, we feel it necessary to include our best advice regarding headshots. And if you’re interested only in voice-over work, at least for the time being, many local talent agents will probably ask you if you’re interested in pursuing on-camera, especially if that agent happens to handle both voice-over and on-camera, as many do.

If you are, then it’s imperative your headshot look like YOU, the person walking into the room to audition. Just as your voice-over demos should sound like you. You are promoting who you are and defining the sort of work you intend to land.

If you’re pursuing a career in BOTH on- and off-camera work, you SHOULD include your voice-over demo on your page, as well as your listing.  And, yes, if necessary you should pay for it!  It’s the price of doing business.  Including your demo in both of these locations, especially in lieu of having a short (effective/appropriate) on-camera segment to serve as what you do best on screen, your voice-over demo will offer greater insight into who you are as a professional talent and your true aesthetic level. 

However, I never recommend you include a headshot on your voice-over web page.  We want to IMAGINE what you look like—not actually see what you look like as a voice over.  Suspend the imagination of your potential employers for as long as you possibly can.  Otherwise your client will ultimately be listening with their eyes and not their ears… and that’s always a deal killer in voice-over.  ›

‘What’s Your Rate’ Question

Hey, there, sorry to bother you, can you give me some guidance on a reasonable rate for this?  Thanks.  –JG

Hi JG, I’m a producer at XXXX (and contacting your for) a corporate project. They love your voice, though we are still waiting on final script approval at this stage, so I wanted to check in about your availability later this week (Wednesday – Friday) and early next. 

The script times out to roughly :42 at this stage, and the video will be run at a corporate conference prior to a speaker coming on stage. We’d love to do a phone patch for our session if possible, then have you send the files after we wrap up. What’s your rate?

Kate: Depends on what the client’s budget holds, but generally $700 – $750 would be appropriate for a non-union buy-out.

Have the client pay your PayPal account.  Set one up if you don’t already have one.  You just give them your email and the funds will go directly to your bank account.

Invoice the client directly following the session with a simple all-inclusive, buy-out rate.  Make your own. Date it and state what it’s for. Give it an invoice number so you can keep track and reference it later.

Find out what formats they will need the final in (WAV files or AIF).  Get the emails and phone numbers of the tech/engineer who will be putting the final audio together on their side. You can give this info to the engineer in the studio you’re working with to handle, make sure you’re included in the email that is sent to the client so you can verify the delivery of the audio tracks and off you go to the races!

Keep in mind you’ll be out of pocket $XX (per half hour session for the studio), plus the 3% PayPal rate, so a flat $700 is more than appropriate for a simple in-house Corporate narrative.  Cool?!

NOTE:  Here’s the outcome from THAT project…

From JG   Subject: So here’s your Monday feel-good story

So we did the session on Friday.  Took about 90 minutes. They loved it.  They bumped up the fee a little bit.  Incidentally, they booked me off the demo, didn’t have to audition.  They loved the XXX bit (from the demo) and the XXX clip (from the demo), although the direction they gave me was a little bit different.  They (paid for the studio).  I didn’t have to pay.  The producer just sent me a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and work for hire agreement.  Seems standard, boilerplate.

So, in a nutshell ‘JG’ made just shy of $6000—all by his lonesome.  VERY well done.  And this was his very first gig, which he bagged only 2-3 weeks after receiving his demo!  Not bad for a days work. ; )  

Moral to the story: never underestimate the power of posting your demo on the Pay-to-Play sites (such as and right away with a KILLER demo produced from SOUND ADVICE, and never undervalue YOURSELF! You can do this! ›

Thank You Very Much!

‘CD’ asked:  Hi Kate…So I wanted to send a thank you note to the people I worked with today. Problem is, I only know 2/3 of their names. One was the producer, and the other two I think were creatives (one of the creatives is the one who’s name I can’t remember). Is it customary to send thank you cards to creatives? Or should I only worry about sending one to the producer?

Kate: It’s NOT customary to send Thank You notes (any more than common sense is common), it’s simply polite and reminds the client of your name and of the great experience they had at the session from booking you.

Look on your paperwork (the W-2, etc. the producer had you sign at the session)… very often the CWs (copywriters) and the Prod (producer, or even the associate producer) will often be named.

If you only got their first names during the session, look their names up on Agency web site, or look through the mailing lists you purchased from us and see if you can locate the Creatives you met at the session.  (Oh, look there’s only one ‘Dierdre’ at that Ad Agency.  Cool!)

Sending a ‘thank you’ postcard or note to the producer should suffice, if that’s the only name you have.  Just keep it brief.  And don’t grovel.  

A simple, “Great working with you on the XXX project last week!  Hope to collaborate with you further in the future!”

Put that on one of your promotional postcards. Short and sweet!

And by the way… very well done! ; ) ›

KidHandRaiseYour Best Chance

The best chance anyone will ever give you in this business is YOU, provided you dedicate yourself to a daily regimen that will allow you to develop and maintain your skills. Do the work of a professional and you will become one before long.

Be what you intend to be by doing the work (both in- and out- of the booth) and before long you will have a career you can be proud of.  It’s always been this way. No shortcuts. Just muddle through, day by day.

The average career (if there is an average) is an accumulation of on-going promotion on your part, and scores of auditions and bookings.  It’s far easier to proceed in this industry when you honestly know what your job entails, and you dedicate yourself to it! 

But then that’s why we’re here as SOUND ADVICE.   ›


Copyright © 2014 by Kate McClanaghan, All Rights Reserved.